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Corona: how to protect yourself from fraudsters

The number of coronavirus-related frauds are increasing. But keeping a few things in mind, you are able to protect yourself and your organisation.

Coronavirus as a cover story

There are scammers who call people up and claim they are investigating if the person in question qualifies to get tested for corona. To secure the identity of the person they have called, they ask that person to identify him-/herself using a banking solution. The scammer then uses this information to log in to the bank account of the victim and withdraw money. So, do not use your banking solution on the request of someone calling you.

Always use a VPN when working remotely

A VPN connection encrypts the connection between your computer and the corporate network, which means that you get the same protection as if you were working on site. If you don't use a VPN, there is a risk that hackers can read, intercept or redirect the data being exchanged.


Some companies have deviated from the normal rules and now allow RDP, Remote Desktop Protocol, over the Internet for employees working from home. According to Shodan, a search engine for Internet-connected devices, there has been a dramatic increase in computers with RDP in recent weeks. Unfortunately, a number of serious vulnerabilities have been found in RDP during the last couple of years, so there is an increased risk of companies being hacked via RDP.

Who can see you?

The walls that surround you at work normally provide a protection for you as well as the information you are handling on a daily basis. It is therefore important to think about what type of information and systems that you are handling and in what location. Who can see or access the information? Unfortunately, if you work with very sensitive information or systems, you run a greater risk of being the victim of "home visits" or "burglaries".

Phishing/Waterhole attacks

Big news and events normally lead to an increased number of both phishing and waterhole attacks.

In a phishing email, a scammer tries to trick the receiver into providing his/her sensitive information or clicking on a malicious link In a variation of phishing, called a watering hole attack, scammers set up a trap for the user and wait for their prey to come to them or a website where they infect your computer with malware or trick them into providing his/her sensitive information.

During the corona pandemic, many new domains related to corona/Covid 19 have been registered. Some hacker groups are even running campaigns and selling phishing kits with promotional codes ("corona", "covid-19", etc.).

About phishing on Wikipedia

About watering hole attack on Wikipedia

What to look out for in e-mails

Look carefully at who the sender is. Scammers try to use email addresses as close to the real addresses as possible, such as "cdc-gov.org," rather than the correct "cdc.gov." Note that on some mobile phones, the actual email address is abbreviated so you have to click on the sender's name to see the full address.
Beware of odd-looking attachments. You should always be suspicious of attachments in an email from an unknown source.

Email requesting any personal information of any kind is always a huge red flag. Do not respond and do not click on attachments.

Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Spelling, punctuation and grammar errors are signs that you might have received a phishing email. Delete it.

Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like "Dear sir or madam" might signal an email is not legitimate.

Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.